© 2012-2013 Iscah

All Rights Reserved

SEVENTH NIGHT

Before the Fairytale:

The Girl With No Name

by Iscah


~o~O~o~

Chapter 4

Step by step the girl with no name walked down the dirt road that led away from the village. She did not know where the road led, only that people came and left this way so the road must go to somewhere. The nearly full moon shone down on them, singing its quiet song that changed everyday but was always the same as the month before. The stars chorused along like the chirping of crickets. The trees alongside the path hummed in their sleep. It was both sad and comforting to know that the night had not noticed the passing of her only friend. It was as it always was and would be.

She let her goats set the pace since they had the greater burden. She was in no hurry. The only plan she could form was to follow the road and see where it led. When she grew tired, she took her goats off the road and tied them to a tree. She rolled the small wagon just out of their reach, for goats will eat most anything they can reach, and took an old quilt from it. The wagon tilted back on the axle of its two wheels, and she spread her blanket under the meager shelter it provided and slept.

She woke a few hours later to the scream of the goats. A lone wolf was drawing ever closer, panting in anticipation as its helpless prey tugged against their ropes. There was no one around and no time or need for modesty. The girl slipped out of her dress and changed into a bear. She charged towards the predator, roaring out all the anger she felt. She took a swipe with her claws, but the wolf darted away into the underbrush. She was in no mood to chase after it.

The goats, not quite bright enough to understand they had been rescued, began to work themselves up into an even greater panic. The girl returned to her dress, became a girl again, and tried to reassure them. At first, she did not approach them. She sat still and sang a song of comfort, for most magic is subtle. After a time, the goats grew calm. The girl approached and stroked their necks until they had forgiven her. Then she milked the she-goats and made a breakfast of milk and berries.

After breakfast, they continued down the road until they found a stream. The girl realized she was ill prepared for travel. They drank their fill, but the girl had nothing well designed to carry water. She had nothing to shelter them at night from foe or storm. In her haste to leave, she had brought very little food. The goats were content to eat the plants on the roadside and nibbled happily on anything that had managed to set root on their path, but the girl's stomach was more selective. The goats were good for milk but could not provide bread, meat, or vegetables.

The girl put a little water in one of the pots but was anxious for her books and dare not fill it lest it spill over. She urged the goats to keep a steady pace, hoping they would reach a town or inn soon.

Around noon they passed a soldier riding a tall, brown unicorn with a copper horn. "Sir, do you have any food I could buy?" she asked.

"I offer my apology, little vagabond," he said. "But I only carry enough to take me to the next town."

"How far this way until I can buy food?" she asked.

"Best go home, little runaway."

"I have no home," she said.

"No father or mother?"

"I'm looking for my father," the girl said. "His name is Mortagin." She knew this from his journals. "Do you know him?"

The soldier shook his head. "Your mother sent you?"

"My mother left me long ago," the girl said.

"I must wonder then where you got the goats."

"They belonged to the Elder I lived with, but he died, and the mayor said his property belongs to the village."

"So it does," said the soldier with a frown. "Including the goats. Unless he specifically made a gift of them before he died?"

"Not specifically," said the girl, a little perplexed.

"Then you are a little thief," said the soldier. "I must take you back to the village with me to return the goats and determine your punishment."

Other girls may have cried as the soldier dismounted and stepped closer, looking very formidable and official with his sword and armor, but the girl with no name was too angry to cry. She had lost her home to the village which had shown her no pity. Since they were unsuitable to travel, she had been forced to abandon her chickens, but to have her goats taken as well was unbearable. If they wanted her goats, what would stop them from claiming the wagon or small amount of gold and silver in her pocket?

As the soldier reached out his arm for her, she let her eyes grow black and began to growl like a bear. He jumped back with a startled exclamation. The girl tried to give form to her anger. She let her fingers grow into claws, her skin to grow dark and thorny.

The soldier forgot his sword, ran back to his unicorn, and galloped away as fast the unicorn's hooves could fly. Before he was completely out of sight, the girl was a girl again. She was still angry but much less scared. She had learned fear could be useful.

~o~O~o~


Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed reading this edited preview. Due to some shuffling, reviews made before September 2013 may not match up with current chapters.